Monday, July 26, 2004

Lesson #306: Never believe your hive won't swarm..

This hive started out as a split containing four frames of brood and multiple swarm cells. After the virgin queen emerged she laid one batch of brood and quit. I was stumped as to what to do, so I just waited and checked on them on a regular basis hoping they were just honeybound and the queen would start laying again soon. A few weeks pass and I find a Supersedure cell, giving me the indication that the queen had not been well mated therefore they will supersede her, no problem.

I failed to mention that these girls had not drawn out all ten frames of foundation in their first deep, but they were close to drawing out 7 therefore I added a second deep pulling two frames of honey and pollen up top to encourage them to move up and draw out those frames and realize they have plenty of room, just in case those Supersedure cells are swarm cells. Supposedly swarm cells are formed on the bottom of frames and Supersedure cells are drawn out from the sides of the frames about half way up, right???

Wrong... I checked in on them today and they had taken off without my permission. Obviously they did not appreciate the wonderful environment I had provided for them, go figure...

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Lesson #303: Never try to hive a swarm as a thunderstorm is approaching...

Got a call from a lady in Davisburg, requesting that I retrieve a swarm from her tree. We get there right around dusk, having no indication of the approaching thunderstorm. The sky had suddenly turned very dark, lightening flashes in the distance, but we had traveled quite a distance to turn around without the bounty we had come for.

We start to set up under the tree, assessing the situation as we grab our tools. Up in the tree about ten feet the swarm stretches 36" or so up a main branch of this tree, so shaking it is out of the question. I decide to hoist the hive into the tree, and secure it into a crotch close to the cluster, as I finish setting it down in the crotch of the tree the sky starts to open up and release these slow falling huge drops of rain, at which point I decide that taking the cover off the hive is out of the question and I will just try to scoop some of the bees at the bottom of the main cluster and shake them in front of the opening on the landing board, big mistake...

As I shook the bees off the bee brush onto the landing board I felt some of the girls land on my legs and arms. Not anything that I had not experienced before, so for a split second I still felt safe, after all swarms are not aggressive. Then simultaneously they each decided I would make a very good pin cushion. I quickly exited the tree, stage left... At which time I realized the rain had changed to a downpour.

Taking immediate shelter in the truck I now have the time to address the the wounds inflicted by those ungrateful little witches. I proceed to picking out all the stinger, totaling about a dozen as close as I could figure. The rain shows no sign of letting up and my courage is failing me at this point, so I decide to abandon the project and vow to return tomorrow to remove the hive, hopefully the swarm cluster will take shelter in the hive between now and then.